So the Sox control their own destiny with 2 games to play. Win both and they earn the right to play in the Wild Card game. I've seen this movie before, but with more on the line. In the Impossible Dream season of 1967, they trailed the Twins by a game with two games against them in Boston with a World Series trip on the line. They were losing 1-0 against Jim Kaat, (the same Jim Kaat who does a great job calling games with Bob Costas on MLB Network) when Kaat had to leave the game due to injury in the third inning. That was a huge break for the Sox as they were having a hard time with Kaat. They took advantage to come back and take a 2-1 lead. Minnesota tied it at 2 before George Scott launched a "tater" to make it 3-2 Sox. The Sox put it away when eventual Triple Crown winner and MVP, Carl Yastrzemski blasted his 44th homer of the season, a 3 run shot, to make it 6-2. The Sox finished the job winning 6-4, and it was on to Sunday.
The Sox were down 2-0 after 5 innings, and doing nothing against the Twins' 20 game winning ace, Dean Chance. Jim Lonborg started 6th inning rally with a bunt single. After a single and an error, Yaz was clutch again, lacing a 2-run single, tying the game. Well, they scored 5 in the inning, and never looked back. When Rich Rollins hit a soft pop-up to Rico Petrocelli at short, the game was over, 5-3 final. But the celebrating couldn't begin because the Tigers had a chance to tie if they beat the Angels. They lost however, and the Impossible Dream came true.
Five years later, the Sox went into Detroit to end the season with three against the Tigers who held a 1/2 game lead. There was a brief players strike early in the year, and the games lost were not made up, so the teams had played a different number of games. Whoever won 2 games won the division, and the right to face Oakland in the ALCS.
In game one, the Sox were trailing 1-0 in the top of the 3rd when Yaz, that man again, hit a rocket to the deepest part of Tiger Stadium for what should have been a 2-run triple and 2-1 Sox lead. However Luis Aparicio fell rounding third, and only one run scored. That would be their only run as Mickey Lolich shut them down the rest of the way, with the Tigers winning 4-1. The next day, the Sox got an unearned run in the first, but could not do anything against Woody Fryman the rest of the way, losing 3-1. The Sox did win the meaningless finale.
That brings us to the unpleasant memory of 1978. Yes, the Sox led the NYY by like 14 games in early July, But the Yankees got hot, the Sox went cold. The NYY came to Boston in September for a 4 game set, and not only swept the Sox, but beat the snot out of them in what was called the Boston Massacre. The three losses at home to NYY last week were eerily similar, but not nearly as bad. After a win in Baltimore, they would lose another 5 straight including 2 in NY before finally getting a win against the Yanks. But it seemed to be too little too late. What most people don't realize is that this team, although seemingly done at that point, rallied to win 8 of their next 10, to have a chance to tie NY, but they would have to sweep their final weekend home series against Toronto. Well they did, forcing the tie, and infamous Bucky "Bleeping" Dent playoff game.
Let's all hope for a better outcome this time.